I am the surviving spouse of a veteran. We were separated when he passed away in 2002, however we were married for 10 years. An attorney told me that I should have gotten his pension, but I did not have his military records, as his ex-wife took everything. Do I have any rights to compensation? I have received nothing at all from the military or Social Security. I am approaching 63 and am employed full time. I have conflicting information from Social Security and the military. He was in the service for 32 years, did three terms in Viet Nam, and was an E-9 when he retired. Can you help me?
State/Country relating to question: Indiana
In 2002, I hired a lawyer to get the death certificate changed from divorced to married, which we were at the time of his death. I tried countless times to get his military records from the archives, but don't have his service dates, so could get nothing. I was also told that I should get some SS benefits, but got nowhere with the SS Administration.
Can you tell me please, you mention you separated...did you divorce?
No, we did not get a divorce, but had been out of contact for about a year.
Thank youOk, there are two possible ways you could be entitled to money at this point. First, from his pension. A military pension will stop at time of death of the service member...but there is a product called Servicemembers Benefit Program (SBP) that can act as insurance to allow the spouse to continue to draw a portion of the pension after death. More info on SBP herehttp://militarypay.defense.gov/survivor/sbp/index.htmlHowever, to be eligible for SBP, the member must have elected this at the time he retired and also placed you as beneficiary. If your the beneficiary of SBP, you would be entitled to a part of his pension. How can you tell...take a look at his last statement from DFAS...if it shows a deduction for SBP, he had it. If not, then likely not.If he had, you can contact DFAS to see if your the beneficiary.The second way you may be eligible is via the VA. The VA has several programs to benefit spouses of members who die after they have left the service. You can review them here to see if you qualifyhttp://www.vba.va.gov/bln/dependents/spouse.htm Please let me know if you have further questions; if so I will do my best to answer them. If not please hit the accept button, its the only way I get credit for my work. Terms and Conditions: By your continuing in this conversation with me, or by your clicking “Accept”, you are expressly agreeing to all of the following: (1) our communication is for entertainment purposes only; (2) you do not seek to establish an attorney-client relationship with me, nor do I with you; (3) you will not rely on anything I say and you will obtain appropriate legal counsel via a traditional office consultation with an attorney licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where your legal issue arises; (4) by communicating with me in this public forum you are irrevocably waiving any right to privacy, confidentiality and attorney-client privilege concerning the matters discussed. You further separately declare that any payment made by you is not consideration for this contract, nor offered for any services rendered by me on your behalf. If you do not agree with these terms and conditions, then you must advise me immediately.
Retired Marine Corps Lawyer, Veterans Services Officer (VSO)
Thank you for clearing this up for me. I had gotten so many differing opinions that I didn't know what to believe.
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).